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Walk In Darkness, Not In Light *R* 1/1
Deslea R. Judd
Copyright 2001

DISCLAIMER: Situations not mine. Interpretation mine. Deal.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name and headers.
RATING: R for low-key sexual situations.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: One Son post-ep, small spoilers to Requiem.
CATEGORY: Vignette, angst, Krycek/Diana, Krycek/Marita, Mulder/Diana.
SUMMARY: When the world is upside down, sometimes you've got to take whatever comfort you can get.
DEDICATION: For the Harem Of X Files Other Women Defenders. You rock!
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com/
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. deslea@deslea.com.
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky 2002 Eligible.


Watergate.

How fucking funny that I should live in the Watergate.

The irony was unintentional. It just so happened that when I returned to DC, the Smoking Man was looking to move as well, and he wanted me close at hand. The first two apartments we found in the same building were in the Watergate, just an elevator trip apart.

Looking at my damaged doorframe, though, I have to laugh. Three intruders in one night. Only at the Watergate.

I draw my weapon, but I hold it without any great conviction. My latest intruder has made no attempt to conceal his presence. He isn't here to hurt me. That narrows the field of identities considerably. Alex? Jeffrey, perhaps? One of my several informants?

I open the door.

He is outlined against the streetlights, shining in the window. His back is to me, his frame in shadow. One arm hangs limply down his side, inanimate, lifeless.

"Don't turn on the light."

Frowning, I close the door behind me and put the chain in its place. I put my keys and the gun on the dresser. It's still a mess where Fox was searching it earlier. Searching for what he wanted from me so he could use it to save his goddamn redhead. Damn you to hell, Fox.

"What are you doing here, Alex?"

He sighs, and his shoulders droop a little. It makes his bad arm hang at an angle. I can't drag my eyes away from it. It's not often I get to look at him like this, unobserved. Alex Krycek isn't the sort of man to turn his back on anyone - not even an ally. And you don't stare at an amputee when he knows you're watching. Especially not Alex Krycek.

At last, he admits, "I didn't know where else to go."

For the second time in the space of days, I have become the last resort for a man I'd thought would never need one. The Smoking Man's confidence was calculated...manipulative. But Alex...I don't know what to make of Alex. He's too lost, too bereft to be consciously calculating right now. I can hear the raw undertone in his voice, and I'm suddenly, absolutely sure that there are tears on his face. I can think of no other reason that he would let me have his back. He could be scarred by acid and he still wouldn't let me have his back. He's spent too long playing both ends against the middle for that. The survival instinct is too ingrained.

"Why weren't you at El Rico?" I ask at last.

"I went to Fort Marlene. I tried to stop it. I tried to get Cassandra back."

Well, that figures. He was furious that we were going to hand her over. Alex may be a killer, but he isn't a killer on a mass scale. And like it or not, what we tried to do tonight, had it gone to plan, would have been exactly that.

"For what it's worth, you did the right thing."

He snorts, a harsh sound of laughter through his nose. "You're only saying that because it all went to hell."

"No, I'm not. You're a better man than any of us, Alex." Including Fox, I realise with some dismay. He disappointed me tonight, in a thousand ways. Fox and Alex are like two sides of the one coin, and tonight, the dark twin proved the better of the two. You know the world has gone to hell when Alex Krycek is the best man of the lot. You know the world has gone to hell when you still want the one who proved to be less.

"I'm glad you made it out, Diana. You and Mulder, too."

"I notice you didn't include the Smoking Man in that statement."

The snort of laughter that follows is a little less harsh, a little less wounded than the one before it. I'm glad. "I just knew that fucker was going to make it out. My luck isn't that good."

I laugh too. "Mine, either."

"What happened with Mulder?" he asks. "I heard him on the scanners. He's out there with the FBI hacks. I thought he'd be with you."

"He left me before it began," I tell him. "He left me -" I falter for a moment, and then I start again. "He left me to get Scully." I like the way my voice sounds. Strong. Matter-of-fact.

"Oh, Jesus, Diana, I'm sorry."

"Don't be idiotic," I say briskly. God damn it, I will *not* cry. Especially not with Alex Krycek. "I didn't want her to die. I'm not that petty."

"Still hurts, though."

Well, he's got me there. "Yeah." The sigh that follows is ragged to my own ears. Dammit, I have really got to change the subject, or I'm going to cry, Alex be damned. "What happened at the Fort?"

"The rebels stole the embryo. Killed some of the scientists. Destroyed the vaccine stocks. It's a mess out there."

"The vaccine is gone?"

"No, there are more stocks. Some at NASA Goddard, some at the Pentagon. We can rebuild - but it's going to take time."

"What about the test subjects?" I wonder. "It'll be hard to rebuild without those."

"Dead," he says. "All but one. She was somewhere she shouldn't have been, with someone she shouldn't have been with. So they didn't get her."

"What did you do with her?"

"I left her there," he says. "We need her to rebuild the program. If I hadn't - if I'd gotten her out - it all would have been over. You can't save one and sacrifice the world." Something is badly off-kilter about his words - as off-kilter as his bad arm. I puzzle over it for a moment, and then it comes to me. He's justifying himself. Defending his actions.

He's never done that before.

"What aren't you telling me?" I wonder, walking to him. I walk slowly, allowing my footsteps to make themselves known. Alex may be subdued, but his survival instincts can't be underestimated. If I caught him unawares, he could kill me on reflex before he knew what he'd done. Especially now, when instinct is all he has left.

"I thought she was dead," he says, voice low and raw. "They told me she was dead."

Jesus Christ.

"What are you telling me, Alex?" I ask, and I brave a tentative hand on his shoulder, because I have a pretty good idea of the answer already. No one could hurt him like this. No one but-

"It was Marita," he rasps. "Jesus, Diana, it was Marita." I'm close enough to see the tendons in his neck, tense, hard, flickering in the light of the street. I tighten my hand on his shoulder, and the fact that he doesn't pull away speaks volumes. "She was so - white - and so - sick - and I couldn't get her out," he whispers. "I couldn't get her out."

"No, you couldn't," I murmur, and I marvel at the warped heroism of the man. A killer at heart, and yet he can sacrifice himself and the woman he loves to save the world, while the good guys run around trying to save themselves. Madness. It's all madness. Bad is good and good is bad and the devil is the martyr and the angels are pale imitations of the devil's dark light.

If I had any sense, I'd want him. I'd want him instead of wanting Fox. But then, if I wanted him, I'd be as mad as the rest of the world seems to be tonight. We gravitate to light. That's how we're made. It's a rare woman who can love the darkness - a woman like the one he mourns right now.

But what happens when the world is turned upside down? When light is dark and dark is light? What then?

Then...I guess you find comfort however you can.

I kiss him.

My mouth finds the back of his neck, and I fix on the hard line of muscle there, sucking it. His hand finds mine, still on his shoulder, and holds it. I stay very still for a long moment. Wondering whether he will tighten his hand over mine, or push it away. One would be a comfort. The other would be a relief.

"You're not touching me," he says without rancour. "You're touching him."

"Yes," I admit. He may be the light tonight, but I only want him because he mirrors the other light. My light. The light who has become the darkness. I tease my free hand up through his hair, and it isn't Fox, but it's soft and suddenly I understand how Marita could do this, how she could hold him and love him. Because beneath it all, he's just another wounded man.

He moans. "It's been so long," he whispers. "So long." His hand tightens over mine.

"I can be her. If you let me. If it's dark."

He shudders a little, his shoulders vibrating in a hitching sigh. He turns, and his face is in shadow, but his eyes are gleaming. Not with desire. With tears. It's all tears. In a fucked-up way, that makes it better. This isn't about me for him any more than it's about him for me.

"Yes," he says at last. "Yes."

Then his mouth is on mine, and he tastes of salt and tears, and that makes it better too, because I can't tell the difference between them. Every man tastes different, but tears taste the same no matter whose they are.

He keeps his bad arm back, away from me, not brushing me with it; and I slip out of my shoes so I'm not so tall. I accommodate his fragile fantasy, and he accommodates mine. His consideration hurts me, because it's so long since any man has considered what I need; but more than anything, it makes me warm.

The sex is unremarkable, a fumbled effort to touch and hold without breaking the tenuous threads that bind us. He holds me so close, plunging into me without breaking the contact between us. Between fragments of my own gossamer-thin fantasy, I wonder whether he does that so that it's all flesh, so he can't make out the differences between her body and mine; or whether he holds her and envelopes her this way all the time. But then waves of warmth and need wash over me, and the memories come flooding back, and I'm a decade younger and a decade dumber again, and I don't care why he does it anymore.

The sounds are inarticulate, gasping breaths and sighs, and only once does he slip, rasping, "Oh, God, M-" and then he sinks his teeth into my shoulder, quelling the rest of her name. By then I've come, and I'm just waiting for him, so I stroke his hair, tears of pity stinging my eyes. We've both lost, but mine is alive while his might as well be dead.

I feel the slight pulse within myself when he comes, and I feel the fullness subside, but he doesn't leave me. He just stays there, his head dipped to my shoulder, and I can feel the creases where his eyes are shut tight. I don't know if the moisture is sweat or tears. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I'm so fucking sorry." I don't know whether he's saying it to me or to her.

"Don't," I whisper. I cradle his head there. "Don't."

We stay that way for long moments, each holding the other on the strength of the love of another; but at last, he comes to himself, and he slides out of me. I should rise, I should wash, but it's been so long since I've felt full and warm like this that I can't bring myself to do it. So I stay there, and he draws me close, not worrying about whether his arm touches me anymore, and he kisses my forehead. "Oh, Diana," he sighs.

"Dear Alex," I say, and I kiss his cheek.

"I wish I could stay," he says, and God, I wish he could too, because it's been even longer since I've been held in my sleep, but he can't. For a thousand reasons, he can't.

"It's better this way," I tell him. "It would be different. In the light of day."

"Yeah."

He rises off me, and in the dim light of the street I see him button his shirt. I suddenly realise he didn't take it off...because of his arm, I suppose. With Marita, he would have removed the shirt, and probably the arm as well. No fantasy is ever complete, I realise. Reality always shines through, just a little. No, he definitely can't stay. For both our sakes.

"I don't know where to go from here," he says as he buttons his jeans.

"Neither do I," I tell him. "But I believe we can both find a way forward." I watch him as he goes to the armchair and picks up the coverlet. "I have to believe that."

He comes and drapes it over me. I'm touched by the gesture - and a little floored. "I believe that, too," he says, in a stronger voice than I've heard from him all night. "You made me believe that." He strokes back my hair. "Thank you, Diana. Thank you for being a friend."

It's so fucking weird, such a weird thing to say after what we just did, but somehow it's the right thing. Maybe the only right thing he could have said. "You too," I say, taking his hand.

He squeezes it, then lets go. "Goodnight, Diana."

"Goodnight, Alex."

He leaves me then, closing the door gently behind him. I should get up and chain it, but I don't. When the world is upside down, sometimes it's better to let the darkness in than to keep it out. So I leave it, and the last thing I hear before I drift off to sleep is the soft whisper of his footsteps fading away.

I don't feel peace. I don't feel joy. But I feel strong enough to go on.

And sometimes, that has to be enough.

END


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I found writing Alex from Diana's POV really interesting. I've never written him from the perspective of someone who regards him with caution before. Marita, Jeffrey, Jeremiah - whether through love, idealism, or naivete, all three of these viewed him with relative lack of regard for the fact that he is a killer. Diana isn't exactly afraid of him here, but she treats him with a healthy respect for the fact that he is a dangerous man - rather like a wild animal, to be handled with care. I found that a really fascinating thing to write.

As for the question of why Krycek/Diana...I must confess I'm not entirely sure. I like Diana enormously, and I use her a lot as a supporting character, and I have been wanting to write something through her eyes for a while. Just been waiting for the right plot bunny, I suppose. I had been mulling over how she might have reacted to the events at El Rico and Fort Marlene, on and off for several days. This one hit me all at once at two in the morning, and it wouldn't leave me alone, so I got up and wrote it.

I must confess I approached this one with trepidation. I've never written either Alex or Marita as having consenting sex outside their relationship before. I don't see this as something that dishonours that bond (or of Diana's love for Mulder, either), but it is something of a compromise, nonetheless. I think it makes emotional sense, but it was certainly something that I found a challenge. So...thank you for taking a risk and following me here.

The Harem Of X Files Other Women Defenders is a mailing list/collective of people who like the "Other" women of XF - Marita, Diana, Samantha, Susanne, Kim, Holly, Sharon, and more. If you're interested in friendly discussion and fic, come and take a look. http://harem.deslea.com.

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